British Airways to make fuel from food waste

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Petroleum

British Airways (BA) has announced plans to establish a biomass plant in the UK that will use biomass – including food waste - to eventually produce millions of tonnes green jet fuel a year.

The airline said the facility would convert up to 500,000 tonnes of biomass waste annually into 16 million gallons of low carbon fuel to use in its fleet. However, while fuel would be produced from 2014 onwards, it would take some years to reach full capacity.

The plant will be built by US company Solena Group at a yet-to-be confirmed location in London. BA said it had signed a letter of intent to purchase all the fuel produced at the site.

“The new fuel will be derived from waste biomass and manufactured in a state-of-the-art facility that can convert a variety of waste materials, destined for landfill, into aviation fuel”,​ a British Airways spokesman told

But the company confirmed the green fuel to be manufactured at the site has not yet been given approval by UK authorities. However, US officials had already given the green light to a 50 per cent blend of the biofuel. BA said consent was only needed from one of the bodies and it was confident that permission for a 100 per cent blend would be given in the future.

The airline said food waste would likely be one significant component of the biomass. Options on where to source the raw feedstock were still being explored - although the spokesman said local authorities and food processors may be considered if the waste quantities were sufficient.

Carbon neutral

Construction on the plant was likely to begin in late 2011 and be completed two years later. BA said it would not be running at full capacity immediately and that there was no timeline in place to build up to the annual 16m gallon target.

Bionaphtha is used as a blending component in petrol and also as a feedstock for the petrochemicals industry. The process offers lifecycle greenhouse gas savings of up to 95 per cent compared to fossil-fuel derived jet kerosene, said BA.

The full volume of fuel produced would be more than twice the amount required to make all of BA’s flights from London City Airport carbon-neutral. The reduction in carbon emissions would be the equivalent of taking 48,000 cars off the road per year, said the airline. The scheme will also produce 20MW of electricity a year and could create up to 1,200 jobs.

Dr Robert Do, chairman and chief executive of the Solena Group said: "The Solena - British Airways BioJetFuel project will efficiently convert biomass into clean renewable fuels and electricity and is completely carbon neutral. The plant will be a state-of-the-art renewable fuel manufacturing facility, distinct from a standard waste to energy incinerator facility. It will not produce any polluting emissions or undesirable by-products."

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